A/N: Please be aware that this is the sequel to "Lost Moon". Go read that first.
Want a sob story about the slow update? No? Kay. Have fun.
"How's your head?"
I looked up at Mrs. Whiteside as she brushed past me on the way out of the classroom. I gave a half-hearted smile and said, "Fine."
Mrs. Whiteside turned her head to look over at me. "You were the clumsy one, weren't you?"
I nodded glumly and she giggled, waving me a goodbye with a few lazy fingers. Ever since my concussion, I had been tripping and stumbling into all sorts of things. The pain medicine wasn't helping much.
I packed up my things with a pout on my face. Winter Break was too far away. It was only September.
I walked down the hallway carefully, feeling the familiar wooziness from lack of food. I only had thirty minutes to my next class. That was more than enough time.
I hopped in one of Renee's leases. I had to leave my truck back at Forks. I missed it more than I missed my old room. I let myself think of Forks while I drive to the closest McDonalds. They had all been without me for a few months now. I knew they were all okay, I was more worried about Charlie than anyone else, but I couldn't help the pang of worry that made me squirm.
Who was Quil teasing now? How was Claire? And Embry? And Sam and Emily? How was Sue? I didn't talk to Jacob as much as I wanted to. College was busier than I expected.
On my drive back to the dorm, I got a phone call from Jacob. Speaking of. . . I picked up the phone, remembered I was driving, and set it back down. I drove back to the dorm in silence, my head spinning in circles.
I bit into the biscuit and re-dialed Jacob.
"Hey, Jake!" I squeaked a second too late. "How are you?"
"Bella?" Jacob exploded. "Wow! You called me back!"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"Because you're a college girl doing college things."
"I'm still Bella."
Jacob huffed. "So, who's the guy?"
"The guy you've been talking to?"
I glanced out the window and said absently, "I only talk to my professors."
Jacob scoffed. "Oh, really?"
I frowned, refocusing. "Jake, you know I wouldn't-"
"I know." Jacob started laughing. "You're so cute."
Cute. I smiled and caught myself trying to hide it as if he was in the car with me. A pang of sadness made me sigh.
"How'd you know?"
"Well, you got a wrinkle on your forehead."
I laughed and ended the laughter with a groan. "College is so draining."
"Don't tell me about it. I might become a mechanic and not bother with it."
"College is great!" I changed tune.
Jacob laughed. He forced "When's your next class?" through chuckles.
"In ten minutes."
When his laughter ended, I was surprised to hear the serious tone in his voice. "Do you think you can skip?"
I snorted in surprise. "What?"
"Bella," Jacob said in a low voice, "you have to skip class today."
Chills went down my spine. "What for?"
He hung up.
I looked at the phone and checked the battery level. Practically fully charged. What-
Someone tapped on my window.
I turned to see Jacob Black standing, looming over me. His face was blank, hiding emotion. His eyes were dark and secretive.
I rolled down the window. "Jacob?"
Jacob smiled one of Sam's smiles. This one was different.
This one was strangely territorial, almost over-protective.
Jacob pulled the car door open and said, "We're going to Forks."
Jacob shrugged lightly, placing a hand on the car door. "You, me, Reese, and Volts."
He had nicknamed his car Volts. "Cuz Volks sounds stupid," he had told me.
Wait. Who was Reese?
"Why?" I shoved his hand aside. Jacob didn't blink at the irritation in my voice. I wasn't unhappy to see him, but for him to show up, demand I skip class, and then be so secretive-
"Jane lied." Jacob growled. "And she's got some of the leeches coming after you."
My blood turned to ice. The fierce early morning sun that shone on me began to boil the thin sweat that glistened on my skin, sending me into a strange moment of weightlessness.
The wooziness trickled into my system next. One moment, I was looking at Jacob, struggling to comprehend his words, then I was being stuffed into a familiar car and laid across the back seat like a limp child.
An unfamiliar voice asked, "Is she okay?"
"She's fine." Jacob said quickly. "Quick, help me get her stuff. We don't want people to think we're kidnapping her."
"But we are." The voice said. Through the wooziness, I tried to regain clarity. I sat up. The car lurched and wobbled, but I leaned forward to stare at the girl sitting in the passenger seat.
Her eyes went to me. Black-haired. Indian. Not Quilette. Pretty eyes.
Reese nodded and asked gently, "We're taking you back to Forks, okay?"
My wobbly vision found Jacob's face. He was looking straight at me, a pensive expression on his face. He was either wondering how much to tell me or if I could handle whatever he told me.
I started small, willing the ringing in my ears to quiet. "Jane checked the burn sites."
"Sam said yes to that." Jacob said. "I was out, remember?"
"So she caught their scents?" Lizzie's? Logan's? Even Sam, whom we lied about?
"That's what Edward told me." Jacob looked pass me to frown at Reese. "She caught a whiff, I'm sure."
I was afraid to ask, but I did. "Is Jane coming back for them too?"
Jacob looked past me to look at Reese again. His eyes narrowed, for a moment he looked like someone had pinched him. He exhaled a quick breath and said calmly.
Despite the worry that ate at me, I fell asleep.
The first few dreams were lazy and unfocused. I would be studying mostly or on the verge of falling asleep. I sat up with a jolt in the dream, gripping my head as it ached.
Jacob nudged me, "Bella?"
I pried my eyes open to find that Reese was gone. Jacob peered at me, leaning against the open door. "We're at a rest station. Want to get out?"
His words didn't register for a few seconds. I shook my head when I processed his words and closed my eyes.
My mind went into overdrive then. Jacob climbed back into the car, only to drive us off a cliff. I didn't fight the icy water that flooded his Volkswagen. I breathed it in urgently, feeling it chase away the terrible ringing.
I opened my eyes in the car. We were driving again. I rubbed a temple as my head ached and yanked myself upright to reach for my book bag.
"How are you feeling, Bella?" Reese asked at the driver's seat. Jacob was passed out cold in her former spot.
"Aching." I rasped as I fumbled with the pill bottle.
"Oh no." Reese said. "What happened?"
"A concussion." I muttered. I swallowed the pill dry and tucked it back in my book bag's pocket. "Happens a lot."
"I get one every year or so. I'm clumsier than my mother." The information wasn't new to me, but sympathy flooded Reese's eyes in the rearview mirror.
"Sorry to hear that." She said earnestly. "I have a habit of bingeing."
"Why do you do that?"
"It's right before finals." Reese admitted. "I usually sit and study hours on end. I never grab the healthy things."
I smiled through the headache and asked, "How'd you guys meet?"
"Bonfire." Reese said, smiling softly when I nodded in understanding. "I know Emily from high school. She invited me to one."
"Did anyone tell stories?"
"No." Reese said, sounding cheated. "We just hung out."
"Sounds nice." A tiny prick of jealousy was settling in my heart. "How long ago was that?"
"The end of August."
Oh. That wasn't too long. I peeked at Jacob.
Reese laughed. "Jealous?"
"We're good friends."
Reese smiled. "I won't hurt him."
We'll see. "I might let you have him."
Reese whined. "Where's your boyfriend, Bella?"
I laid back against the seat, fighting my churning stomach. I should have eaten first. "I'm single."
I sighed. "Hopelessly."
Reese sounded like she was frowning. "I know a guy-"
"Nope." I said quickly. "I'm just not ready for a new relationship."
"Raw from the last one?"
"Yep." It was surprisingly easy to talk to Reese. Maybe we'll be good friends. I gave Jacob another glance. What was I getting jealous for anyway?
Reese said in the small silence, "I'll let you sleep."
I curled up on the seat. "Drive smart."
"Your medication doesn't affect you too much, does it?"
I yawned. "It's only ibuprofen."
"Wanna take the next shift?"
Could I handle driving? I only drove short distances since the incident. I might be able to pull off an hour. "Sure."
"Thanks." Reese said, sounding relieved. "We're not that far away now."
I looked out at the window. It was early afternoon now. "How long have we been driving?"
"Too long," Reese mumbled, earning hoarse laughter from me. "I'll wake you in a bit."
I drove us straight to the Cullens' house.
"Your swerving's not too bad now." Jacob said, sounding nervous.
"What swerving?" I asked pointedly, easing the car back into the lane.
"Stop criticizing my driving skills." I muttered, blinking rapidly as my ears started to ring again. The medication was wearing off. Again. "We'll make it there in one piece."
"Reese, I'm scared."
"She's doing fine."
"We nearly hit a tree on the way here."
The trees finally revealed the house. I parked on the driveway and yanked the car door open. I staggered out, leaned against the wall, and moaned.
"Bella?" Jacob asked urgently. "You okay?"
I looked at Jacob and said, "I'm so hungry I could die."
Reese reached me first. She grabbed my hand and tugged me to the front door. "You," she said sincerely, "need to sleep."
"I slept the whole way here."
"No, you slept part of the way and you took your medication without food." She gave me a sharp look. "No wonder you look green."
"Crap, Bells." Jacob said, guilty. "We could have grabbed you something."
Reese and I said at the same time, "Fast food would have made it worse."
Jacob looked back at his car and slid into the driver's seat. He turned the car off, tucked the keys in his pocket, and called, "Yo! We're here!"
The front door opened a second later. A tall, pale, blond vampire stood in the threshold. His eyes were goldish orange. He smiled when he saw me.
He appeared in front of me and said, "Bella, you're so pink." He poked my cheek. "Like, seriously. This is a nice look for you. Maybe you don't need spray tan."
I smiled, light-headed. "Sam?"
"Hell yeah." He looked over at Reese. "Sup, pretty lady." He smiled at Jacob. "Yo, dog."
"Yo." Jacob said lightly. "Everyone here?"
"Nope. Just your main dogs."
"Stop calling us dogs." Leah said pointedly. We turned to see her leaning against the doorframe. She smiled. "Hey, Bella."
Sam waved her over and grabbed my free hand. "You came just in time. I haven't hunted in months."
Everyone froze up.
Sam looked around and said, "You guys think I'd eat Bella? As pink as she is? It'd be a shame." He led the way inside. "I'm insulted."
"You're a newborn." Leah said. "What'd you think we'd expect?"
Sam whined. "You know, if I had to eat someone, I'd eat Bella though. She smells great." He stopped. "How rude of me." He turned to me. "You smell good. I'd eat you."
"That's a compliment if I know one." Sam said, walking again. "I'm sick of eating little Bambis. They gotta repopulate because between me and Riley, they don't stand a chance."
"Eating like a champ," I rasped. "Not surprised."
"You should be." Sam said. "Vampires don't eat as good as you think."
"You guys are vegetarians." Jacob said, laughing. I suddenly remembered Reese's presence and turned to her, wide-eyed. She looked back at me, calm as a lazy cat.
"I'd still eat Bella."
"Stop saying that."
"Sorry. You smell like . . ." Sam sighed. We were in the living room now. Everyone is standing around, hiding smiles. "Like a flower that needs to be plucked."
"That's a compliment if I know one." Sam said. He sighed, this time in content. "All the VIPs are here. Sup, Cullens." He looked over at Leah and Seth. "Sup, dogs." He nodded at Riley. "Sup, bro."
"You're in a good mood." Riley noted, waving shyly at me. "Hey."
Sam turned to me. "If you're wondering why we're not mentioning Jane yet, we want to feed you first." He looked around suddenly. "Shit."
Esme waved him away with a smile. "It's fine, Sam."
Rosalie gave Sam a tight look. "Please stop cursing."
Sam crossed his arms. "Am I worse than Emmett?"
Emmett huffed. "No one is worse than me."
"See? There you go." Sam said. He took a seat on the couch, taking me with him. "So, what's on the menu?"
"I made spaghetti." Esme said. The smell of it finally hit me and my mouth watered. I swallowed awkwardly and looked around.
"Sam, everyone's not here." I said with a frown. "Where's Logan and Lizzie?"
"They're busy studying." Emmett scoffed. "Stupid college students."
"Um, Emmett." I said meaningfully.
Emmett smiled brightly at me. "Sorry."
It was odd for me to walk into Edward's room again. I knew I wasn't supposed to be here. I knew that my life, and the lives of those I cared about, was in danger again.
There was a strange, addictive rush to crossing the threshold into his room.
There had been no point in moving away. I wasn't sure if I would have still done it if I had known Jane would come back for me. It had been nice to get away from the vampires and werewolves, and I had missed everyone, but it had been good to take a deep breath.
"Everything fine?" Edward asked. I turned to see him standing just behind the threshold, peering in shyly.
"Y-Yes." I said, taking a step back. "Uh, you can come in. This is your room, you know."
Edward smiled and walked in. he lingered by the door. "How was the drive?"
"Alice didn't see?"
"No." Edward said. "She can't see the wolves, remember?" He gave me a curious look.
I nodded quickly, cringing. "It was fine." I had to get better at handling the medication. I had only been unsteady for a few days.
"Good to hear." Edward said briskly. He looked around his room for a bit before his eyes found me again. "Bella," he started.
I waited. When he didn't say anything else, his face tight with thought, I shrugged. "What? Secret?"
"No." Edward said, looking shy. What had happened to him? Edward wasn't nearly this timid and awkward. "I'm just glad you're okay."
I smiled, hot with the tense atmosphere, and turned back to unpacking a suitcase Alice had packed for me. "Me too."
I didn't know when he left. I had forgotten how quiet everyone was. I was forgetting all sorts of things. I glanced over my shoulder to see him gone and I sank on the bed, grumbling.
What was wrong with Edward? Dinner had been fine. Everyone had been happy to see me again. Sam Uley and the rest of the Pack was coming our way soon. Speaking of crossing borders, what if I ran into Charlie while I was here? How was I going to finish school?
I laid onto my back and huffed, sick with anxiety. I focused on the ceiling above me and gritted my teeth as the anxiety turned back into nausea.
This concussion sucked.
I was completely dizzy when I sat up the next morning.
First, I walked straight into the door, trying my hardest to grab the doorknob through my blurry vision to stop myself. I leaned against the door, trying to grab my bearings, and then I fell down the stairs on the way to the first floor.
Jasper caught me by my armpits. "You okay?"
"Hate concussions," I mumbled under my breath. I reached up awkwardly to grab Jasper's hand. He traded my armpits for my hands and gave me a cautious look.
"You got a concussion?"
"Alice didn't see?" I asked in the midst of my confusion. My vision was still wobbling. I shut my eyes tightly. "Crap."
"That was a secret and now everyone knows." I muttered one of Sam's swear words in my head.
"Why are you trying to keep that a secret?" Jasper sounded confused. His gold eyes pierced me worriedly. "You know Carlisle can give you something for it."
I reached the railing and said lightly, "I don't remember what happened, so I don't know if he'd know how much to give me."
"Bella?" Lizzie called. "Are you okay?"
Jasper's eyes gazed at me. His eyebrows rose as concern crossed his face.
"You don't remember?"
"Nope." I said briskly. "Liz, I'm fine!"
"Are you sure?" Lizzie shouted. "You fell pretty hard!"
"Okay, stop yelling!"
"You stop yelling at me!"
Sam shouted. "Stop yelling!"
"Sorry!" We shouted at him.
Jasper wasn't smiling. "Bella-"
"Just. . ." I fumbled. ". . . Trust me."
Jasper's eyes narrowed and he let me go. "Not everyone's here."
"Really? Who's gone?"
"Everyone except me, Sam, and Liz. Sam wanted to go hunting, but he went last night." Jasper gave me a glare. "Lucky it's just us."
"Unless you tell them."
Jasper shrugged. "'Cause I owe you one."
"No, I do." Jasper said. "Thanks to Sam and Riley, I'm not a newborn anymore."
A strange feeling settled over me. It was a mixture of confusion and gratitude. Jasper smiled and nodded sincerely.
Sam ruined it by shouting, "What's that supposed to mean?"
Jasper looked past me and rolled his eyes. The action made me smile and he vanished. "Your secret's safe with us," he hissed.
I watched Jasper go and reached for the fallen pill bottle on the floor. I grabbed it, stood up, and sighed as my ears began to ring.
Lizzie clomped down the stairs, "You good?" She huffed.
I froze. "When did you get here?"
"Seth." Lizzie said matter-of-factly.
I grinned. "Seth as in, 'we're a pair', or Seth as in, 'he dragged me over here'?"
Lizzie narrowed her eyes. "A little of the first one, but mostly the second one."
"You're giving him a chance?"
Lizzie shook her head, saddened. "More like he's giving me a chance."
Her little fling with Logan flew into my mind. My smile faded. "Oh, right."
"Mh-hm." Lizzie nodded knowingly. She surprised me by giving me a hug. "Missed ya, bestie."
"Shut up." Lizzie pulled away immediately, but flashed me a smile. "Let's go eat. You don't look so pink anymore."
We entered the kitchen and I gasped when I saw Sam cooking. He frowned. "Whatcha lookin' at? Sit down and eat these eggs."
I inhaled the smell. "I'm surprised Edward let you cook."
"What? The man's a chef?"
Lizzie sighed wistfully. "Might as well be. Between him and Esme, I don't know what to eat first."
Sam smiled goofily. "You're gonna to eat these eggs and you're gonna like 'em."
"What if they kill me?"
Sam said in a reasonable tone, as if he had already planned an alternative. "We'll hide your body."
"If the venom doesn't spread fast enough." I butted in.
Sam gave me a grin. "Right." He set the places in front of us. "Now eat the eggs or die."
"I guess that's what it comes down to." Lizzie flashed me a look.
I smiled, but only for a moment.
Eat or die. Fight or die.
Jane had told me to leave Forks or die. I guess I didn't really have a choice.
A dark thought filled my head, allowing me to mentally drift out of the kitchen.
Why did Jane lie? Why did she let me think she was going to live?
And why, other than for my protection, did Jacob bring me back?